he UK has recorded another 41,385 coronavirus cases overnight – the highest daily figure to date.
The previous record was reported on December 22, when the country confirmed 36,804 new Covid-19 cases within 24 hours.
It takes the total number of infections recorded across Britain since the start of the pandemic to 2,232,730.
The Government also said a further 357 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus as of Monday, bringing the official national total to 71,109.
However, separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been more than 87,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
The already sobering figures for both deaths and cases are likely to be higher as Scotland has not been releasing data on fatalities between December 24 and 28, and Northern Ireland has not provided case or death data over the same period.
Commenting on Monday’s update, Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England (PHE), said: “This very high level of infection is of growing concern at a time when our hospitals are at their most vulnerable, with new admissions rising in many regions.
“We have all made huge sacrifices this year but we must all continue to play our part in stopping the spread of the virus which is still replicating fast.
“The basics remain very important: wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance from others and abide by the restrictions in place.”
Covid-19 tiers map: How England’s coronavirus restrictions work
Her comments come as hospitals in the South face mounting pressures as the number of coronavirus patients receiving treatment heads towards the April peak.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “We know that the rate of Covid-19 admissions is rising and some trusts are reporting up to three times the number of Covid patients than at the peak of the first wave.
“This means hospitals and also ambulance services in Tier 4 areas and beyond are incredibly busy, compounded by increasing staff absences due to illness and the need to self-isolate.”
She added: “Nightingale hospitals were created as an insurance policy. It is possible that they will be used in the near future.
“However, they will need additional staff, which is a resource currently in short supply.”
Paramedics in the capital are receiving almost 8,000 callouts daily, and Boxing Day was described as one of London Ambulance Service’s “busiest ever days”.
The 7,918 calls received by London Ambulance Service (LAS) on December 26 was up more than 2,500 on the 5,217 received on the same day last year, and medics are receiving support from other ambulance services in the South.
Dr Katherine Henderson, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, described her experience of working in a hospital on Christmas Day as one of “wall to wall Covid”.
“We see patients who are coming in who have Covid symptoms and then we have other people coming in with other symptoms who turn out to be Covid positive.
“Between that, there’s a great deal of difficulty getting those patients through into the wards,” she told BBC Breakfast.
“The chances are that we will cope but we cope at a cost – the cost is not doing what we had hoped, which is being able to keep non-Covid activities going.
“So we will stretch staff, the problem is at the moment we have a lot of staff sickness.”
Professor Jackie Taylor, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, told the programme London and the South East are now experiencing what Scotland went through in the autumn.
“We are still seeing significant amounts of patients with Covid and large amounts of standard respiratory infections and other emergency that we see at this time of year that mount up to a standard winter pressure,” she said.